By Dickson Okafor
Sopuluchukwu Ezeonwuka represents Orumba North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives. He is a member of the Maritime Committee of the House. In this interview, the lawmaker regrets the high level of erosion in his constituency which, he said has not received adequate attention from the state and Federal Government. He speaks on other issues:
Close to two years, what are some of the challenges you face in the 8th Assembly?
I am finding it easy because I’m a trained and practising lawyer until I was elected by my people to represent them in the House of Representatives. I’m a grassroots politician and all my years as a lawyer, I practised in my locality. That is why I’m attached to my people. The job of a parliamentarian is not only lawmaking but oversight, quality and effective representation. So, as a trained lawyer, the process is easier for me. It may be a bit difficult if you are not a lawyer or a litigant. When in the chamber, you begin to hear motions, orders of this and order that hence, you may be lost. However, because some of us are conversant with this, we did not find it difficult to adopt. The way motions are moved in the court, that is how it is moved in the floor of the House. So, it is only when you get into the chamber that you will start to learn the act of lawmaking even though most of us are still learning the process as parliamentarians. With people from different parts of the country and from different background coming to serve the people, it becomes challenging. I pray that our best be better than those who were here.
Anambra State governorship election is around the corner and you have expressed confidence that PDP will defeat All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), what makes you think so when your party is engulfed in crisis?
Even though PDP is facing internal challenges, the two contenders for the National Chairmanship are from the North; I believe very soon the two of them will embrace peace before the Anambra State election. In Anambra, members are expected to abide by the rules of the game.
So, it is time the grassroots politicians are allowed to fly the party flag in all levels of elections. Of course, PDP will regain power in Anambra this year and at the centre in 2019 if the two factions decide to resolve their differences and allow internal democracy take front burner. Therefore, to answer your question, PDP is in crisis but not dead. Lack of internal democracy cost PDP victory in 2015 and now as the governorship election in Anambra approaches, we have no option but to abide by the constitution of the party for the sake of fairness and equity.
At the national level, it is time the Northern caucus of PDP called Senators Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi to order. For the sake of balance of power, the South West should produce the National Chairman of the party while the presidential candidate comes from the North and the Vice President from the South-East. This is important considering the important role tribe, ethnicity and religion play in our politics and now that PDP is a minority party due to our carelessness. The only way the party can balance power is to zone the National Chairmanship position to the South West, while the presidential candidate should come from the North and the Vice President from the South-East. That will be the best arrangement that can put an end to crisis. The South-East gave PDP the highest vote during the last presidential election and should be considered when sharing party positions. The zone merited to produce the next president of the country if not that former President Goodluck Jonathan is from the South. No doubt, the support and votes PDP got from the South-East in the last general elections was overwhelming. However, the ruling party should not rejoice yet because PDP will take over the governorship seat in Anambra this year.
What effort are the South-East caucus of PDP in the National Assembly making to actualise victory in Anambra?
Who says the South-East is not ready to regain power in Anambra? Here is another opportunity to strengthen PDP in the South-East geo-political zone. Meanwhile, the entire South-East caucus in the National Assembly is discussing and dialoguing to ensure we dislodge APGA from Government House, Awka thereby making it easy for the zone to have its fair share in 2019.
All these assurances may not translate into victory for your party if peace did not return to the state leadership of PDP, do you agree?
It is unfortunate the way things are going in the state chapter of PDP. It seems we have not learnt our lessons. As a member of the National Assembly on the platform of PDP, I want to tell you that we never had any meeting. You can take a horse to the stream but you cannot force it to drink water. So, as it is, because various factions conducted their congresses separately, the party is into more confusion in Anambra. Therefore, we have no option but to come together if we must win the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The House Committee on Environment visited erosion site in your constituency recently, what measures are you taking to ensure work starts at the site?
There is what is called Constituency Intervention Funds which is captured in the budget and this is the first since we came in. Orumba North and South have been ignored by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government in the state. There is no single development in the area. Orumba North is the highest erosion devastated area in Nigeria. In places like Oko/Ekwulobia and Nanka, there is no erosion site in this country that can be compared with these areas. I went to the Environment Committee to complain, the Chairman, Obinna Chidoka told me it is captured in this year’s budget under Ecological Fund. So, I hope work will commence soon and so far, I’m doing everything to attract road construction, health and improve education standard in my constituency.